The last year has seen tremendous changes in the automobile business and difficult times for many car companies. But the Ford Motor Company of Canada has fared better than most. Four or five years ago, senior management had the foresight to make changes that secured financial stability for the company. It caused some difficulties at the time but the company got through it without needing government assistance and is now in a very good position. Ann Marie is the dealer principal and owner of Steve Marshall Ford in Nanaimo. She is very confident about the future.
“I’m really proud to be a Ford dealer. Under the guidance of Chairman Alan Mulally, the company has not only secured financial stability, it has continued to maintain and improve overall quality and bring forward great new models. We have perhaps the best model lineup of any company right now with award winning passenger cars, SUVs and trucks that meet customer needs. At Steve Marshall Ford, we did notice a slowdown earlier in the year but we have such a loyal owner base that we weathered the worst of it. We are seeing many more positives now. In fact I have to hire more sales staff, technicians and parts people.”
The Ford Motor Company led June sales in North America, pulling ahead of Honda, Toyota, General Motors and Chrysler. While the competition is still looking for a rebound, Ford is gathering momentum month by month and increasing market share in the process. While current models like the Fusion, Flex and the F-150 pickup are driving the surge in sales, there is a quiet confidence building in expectation of some exciting new models in the wings. The European designed Ford Fiesta, a stylish compact with exceptional fuel efficiency, is the first of Ford’s global family of small cars. It will be joined next year, by the slightly larger “next generation” Focus – also designed in Europe – to meet the needs of a market that is increasingly concerned about the cost of fuel and emissions levels.
Ann Marie is the third generation of Marshalls in the car business. She grew up in her father Steve’s dealership, in Campbell River washing cars when she was very young, helping in the office on school holidays and generally getting her hands dirty learning every aspect of the business. It was vital experience that prepared her for her success as a business owner in her own right.
In what is essentially a man’s business, Ann Marie is the exception to the rule and as the only woman Dealer Principal in Nanaimo, she brings a unique perspective to the business. “Quite early on I realized the car business isn’t really about cars, it’s about people…and I love people. I don’t pretend to know all the details of every Ford vehicle – I have great guys and gals who do know that – but I love the interaction with our customers.”
“Buying a car, having it serviced or repaired are stressful moments in a person’s life. But they don’t have to be. The whole team here is committed to making people feel comfortable whatever their needs are. It’s all about fairness and respect. It’s about treating every customer the way you would want to be treated. After all we don’t want to sell you a car. We want to sell you one today, but then we want to sell your sons and daughters, your friends and your neighbours. And if we treat you well, what goes around comes around.”
The philosophy works. Steve Marshall Ford is one of the top performing dealerships in Canada with a reputation for integrity and fairness second to none. The people who work at Steve Marshall Ford feel they are part of a family and every customer who comes through the doors automatically becomes a part of that family too. As Ann Marie says: “We only have one life to live and it should be fun. If we can do something a little different to make customers feel at home and bring a little fun into the process, then we have done our job.”